Morning friend,

This is the last week of my July sabbatical but I hope you’ve been enjoying our guest posts. Don’t forget that my new podcast is available: Relationship Truth Unfiltered and each week we release a new episode.

This week’s question is answered by Coach LeAnne. LeAnne is an amazing coach and woman of God. She is someone who is continually challenging herself with “how do I live this truth in real time?” 

I believe she will give you some things to think about in her answer to this week’s question. It’s so easy to want help or answers on how we change our spouse. Yet, the only power we truly have is to change our own selves. LeAnne gives us something to work on, even when our spouse continues to be blind to his own changes.

Question:

I feel very confused and lost in my marriage. We've been married for 17 years and it's been difficult. There is no physical or verbal abuse. But my husband has always had a short fuse and explodes easily over little things. He's a blamer and very negative. He is a controlling black-and-white thinker and I've never felt ‘heard' when we disagree on a family decision. It's generally his way and even if I agree in the end, I'm resentful because I was still bullied into the final decision. Recently we started seeing a different Christian counselor (we've been in the past but it didn't help). This counselor has been great and really has seen to the core of my spouse rather quickly. The counselor calls my husband out and to the table, requiring him to own his stuff. This is good news but I still feel anxious. If my husband is going to counseling and somewhat ‘trying,' then I guess I should stay. We do have multiple children and a child with a significant disability. I want to be free from this marriage but feel like I don't have a strong Biblical justification. And I feel guilty because of my children (if I initiated a separation). At the same time, doesn't God want us to be in healthy, Christ-honoring marriages? My gut says, my husband can probably make a few changes, in the short term, but never to the point where this could be a loving partnership. What is the Godly way to handle this situation? 

Answer:

Thank you so much for your questions. There are many layers here to unpack. 17 years is a long time to live in a difficult marriage. You mentioned that there is no verbal or physical abuse happening in your home. As I read and reread your question and background information, I can’t help but notice that your emotional well-being is being compromised in various ways. First, by his short fuse and being quick to become angry, second, by not honoring your ideas and the fact that you feel bullied into making decisions. If this has been the pattern for 17 years dear one, I would call this verbal violence. From the tone of your note, the blaming and negativity have taken a toll on you, and perhaps your children. Blame is often a shield we humans raise to protect the ego. Please do not assume the blame for the blame- remember, the blamer does not always tell the truth. The fact that you are feeling anxious and guilty and conflicted in your next best steps, tells me that it is time for some CORE Strength work. You will also need a good support system. Add to that an abundance of grace and truth having no expectations at all of a meaningful relationship or a mutual healthy give and take with your husband. At least for now. 

I am encouraged to hear that your counselor is not afraid to call a spade a spade and ask for continued accountability. A craving for admiration, an attitude of entitlement, and a lack of empathy for anyone else’s needs are indeed three big red flags. For there to be significant changes in your husband’s character, he will have to come to the conclusion that the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of change. A person will not change or mature if they do not want to change or grow.

In order to live with someone like this you will need to learn to lean hard into God’s loving grace, knowing that when your husband doesn’t treat you well or love you like you wished he did, you are still deeply loved and valued by God.

God does want you to be healthy. You do not have a healthy marriage right now. You may never have a loving relationship with him. So where do you go from here? 

I have found great comfort in continually returning scripture. This is the only place truth is found. I encourage you to turn to Micah 6.

Micah, just like you dear one, genuinely wants to know what God requires. How to navigate the hard in healthy and Godly ways. We can ask, What are we to offer our relationships? How are we to restore sanity during relationship chaos? To Honor you God, should we bring offerings, sacrifices, the perfect script, our firstborn. (Micah 6:7) God responds to Micah as He does to us: “No, not your gifts, your words or even your most prized possession. I want you to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with me.”

God continues to speak to His people about what we are to do in the face of injustice. And who we are to BE. The response of God to Micah, is His response to us when we ask what is required of us in the hard. Instead of focusing on what we cannot do, turn our eyes to what can we do? The Lord reminds us that we know what to do. Even if sometimes we forget. We can push the pause button, we can notice our thoughts and emotions, and we can choose our responses.

Micah helps us focus when pain is present, and stress is on the rise. God says, Do justice. Justice is defined as the quality of being just. It is righteousness, equitableness, and integrous. To be just is a call to action—not to be silent or complacent when others, especially the most vulnerable, are abused, mistreated, in need, scorned or exploited. In other words, there is no time like the present to develop and grow your Core Strength. A Hebrew word sometimes translated as “just” is tsedaqah, which expresses the idea of honesty, justness, and loyalty. To be biblically righteous is to be biblically just and vice versa. These two ideas cannot be separated.

To love mercy is to show “hesed,” covenant faithfulness to one another. Micah 7:18 says God delights to show covenant faithfulness. It’s who He is. Only because He has shown us great mercy can we do the same for others. We can practice justice mercifully, and gracefully. We can practice mercy gracefully and justly. When you see and experience poor impulse control, erratic decisions, and one-sided thinking, in your spouse you have the opportunity to unpack the truth, and respond with justice, grace, and mercy, as God has shown us justice, grace, and mercy.

To walk humbly. Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of humility. The extravagant mercy and grace of God met justice at the cross in the humility of Christ, who gave His very life for our salvation. We have the model in Jesus as well as the call and command to walk humbly, with God. However, to do justice and love mercy as God does, is not within our own power. We humbly ask the Lord to help us, empower us, lead us, and equip us. 

[Tweet “Admitting to God that we cannot do it on our own is a great first step.”] God encourages us to Be humble. sets our feet on the pathway to peace. 

Schedule some alone time with God. Grab your Bible, a Pen, and a Journal, and Ready your heart to Pray. It’s as simple as A.B.C. Admit. Be Real. Cry out. Open your heart to Him, Walk into that kind of vulnerability, with God. He can handle it. You are safe with Him. It may not be easy, yet it is the road God calls us to walk.

God sees how much you give whether your husband notices or appreciates it. Pursue His eternal perspective on your marital loneliness and suffering because you may feel unheard, unseen, unloved, and undervalued much of the time. Guard your heart against bitterness, it could become a stronghold.

You will need the grace to respond to him in a God-honoring way. And mercy to not have contempt for him as a man or as a person. When communication is cradled in contempt, it can be so cruel. 

Micah 6:8 is a call to 

1. Listen to God.

2. Obey Him: take ownership and responsibility for our wellbeing, and stop enabling the abusive behavior to continue. 

3. To do justice, to do what is right.

4. Walk Humbly. Allow your steps to be graced with a heart of mercy, and marked by the humility of Christ. 

Micah 6:8

O people, the Lord has told you what is good,

and this is what He requires of you:

To act justly, (do what is right) and to love mercy,

and to walk humbly with your God.

You will need God’s grace to continually forgive your husband and keep a clean slate of the wrongs he does against you so that you don’t become hardened by normal anger, bitterness, and resentment that you may feel. You may even be tempted to give your husband the benefit of the doubt, especially when you are tired, worn down, or depleted. Your husband may never apologize or take responsibility for his wrongdoings, which can make it challenging to forgive and let things go. Therefore, your strength must come from outside yourself. It can only be from God. He can and He will build your inner strength as you pursue truth.

You will also need to stay focused on God’s truth to stay healthy emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. Your husband blames and shames and it’s tempting to believe his harsh words. Don’t do it. Don’t assume the blame for the blame. Blame is often the shield he will hold up to protect his ego and defend his ugly behavior. It’ll take work but you can refuse to take responsibility for his accusations. The fruit- his blaming will have less power over you and offers him the opportunity to sit with his discomfort. 

Listen to what God says about who you are and not your husband’s words. You will need a healthy dose of God’s truth to explain to yourself and even your kiddos that sometimes their father acts selfishly and it’s not wrong of them to say “no” or to ask him to consider their needs, and not just think of his own (Philippians 2:4).

The Truth will help you know when boundaries are important and how to set them. For example, when he begins his angry rants, you might stop talking, turn around, and walk away. If he continues, leave the house. When you return you can say something like, “I can’t listen to you when you yell at me.” Keep it short and simple. Or “I don’t want to feel angry and bitter toward you so I’m leaving until you can cool down.” Then do it. Follow through with a consequence to your boundary.

You will also need truth to guide you on when to confront your husband’s sinful behavior and how to speak up. There may be a strategic or teachable moment where you could say something that may cause him to press pause and think about his actions and you want to look for those moments and ask God to give you anointed words.

Speaking the truth in love to one another takes planning, practice, and prayer. It is tempting to either placate this kind of person or eventually get sick of it and blow up, only to later feel guilty, regretting your reaction which only adds more fuel to his fire of blaming. [Tweet “Hard words need not be harsh words.”]

For example, when he’s inconsiderate of your needs or your desires for the family, you could say, “I know this is important to you, I hear you. There are some things I would like to share with you that are important to me as well. Would you be open to sharing a conversation where both of our wants and needs are openly discussed?” Your goal in this kind of statement is to remind him that you are a separate PERSON with your own needs, feelings, and thoughts. You are not just a slave or a robot or a “wife” but a person and even if he doesn’t value you, you are going to value yourself. You do not have to be bullied into decisions that go against your Core values. 

If you act as if he’s right all the time and entitled to act this way, your kiddos will get the picture that men get to have their way all the time that’s “normal.” Therefore, it’s important to speak truthfully to your children about things such as, “I think sometimes your father can be self-absorbed and unaware that you have your own plans. It’s okay to remind him that you can’t always accommodate him and stick to what you need to do for yourself.”

You say your husband is making some changes. Galatians 5:16-26 speaks about the person who lives in the spirit and one who lives in the flesh. Asking curious questions in a moment when your husband seems open or more in tune with God may open up a conversation worth having! When he is most negative or critical say, “You don’t seem to experience God’s joy or peace very much. Why do you think that is?”

Your words may not have an impact on him, yet God tells us that His words are powerful and don’t return void. They have the power to cut right to the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Ask God to use His Word, your counseling sessions, and your commitment to truth to cause him to see how he is showing up with you in such critical, dismissive, and unhappy ways.

Lastly, don’t forget you do need life-giving relationships in your life, even if it’s not in your marriage. Seek out healthy, godly women who can encourage you, inspire you, love on you, pray for you and hold you accountable to be the kind of person you want to be while living in this difficult, disappointing, and destructive marriage.

Friend, How might walking into Micah 6:8 one step at a time, allow you to you experience life outside your comfort zone?

26 Comments

  1. Julie on July 27, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    Leanne has pointed us in the right direction. Thank you.
    Iis definitely a time to seek God’s wisdom & direction in life.
    Reassurance of steadfast love can be found in First John Chapter 4: 13-19 and Chapter 3: 1-3. We are most importantly a child of God and ALWAYS loved by God.

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 29, 2022 at 4:03 pm

      Connie,
      It is such an encouragement to us here at LV and Co when we hear of woman stewarding their lives in powerful and Godly ways. Healthy Detachment, It is hard. We can do hard. You are doing hard. We are stronger together.
      With Christ as your one and only, walking into truth daily is a step in the direction of dignity.
      What is your favorite worship song?

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 30, 2022 at 4:03 pm

      Julie,
      The well of Gods love for you is deep and wide. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and encouragement.

  2. Debra Iglesias on July 28, 2022 at 9:14 am

    Leslie you are such a Godly, gifted woman! It is so clear that the Holy Spirit is working through you! Thank you for all you do.

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 29, 2022 at 4:06 pm

      Debra,
      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your gratitude. As a coach on Leslies team it is an honor to serve woman of God alongside her. Our God is awesome and His Spirit moving,, shifting and raising awareness for Christian families all over the globe.

  3. Maria on July 28, 2022 at 11:42 am

    Beautiful response … to a very difficult situation. I would also encourage finding a Christian counselor for individual sessions to walk through all these layers and decisions with support specific to each week’s circumstances. Lastly, depending on how aware the church is in EDM marriages, perhaps some of these decisions that are made without fully hearing the wife could be appealed to pastors to help walk through that process.

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 30, 2022 at 4:08 pm

      Maria,
      Thank you for sharing- I agree individual work with a therapist or coach is so helpful and necessary. In addition we have some group coaching opportunities coming up that are transformative and so helpful.
      Oftentimes, our churches are safe spaces. Sometimes they are not.
      We are working to shift the culture in our churches to become more supportive and helpful for woman and children in destructive and abusive relationships. One conversation at a time… thanks for sharing your voice!

  4. D on July 28, 2022 at 11:43 am

    This reply also helped me and was timely. Thank you, Leslie, for your compassion to those who suffer so in these difficult situations.

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 30, 2022 at 4:09 pm

      D,
      We are so glad you are here and feel our love for you. Press on sister. We see you.

  5. Erin on July 28, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    Thank you so much for this article in giving Godly advice for those of us who live in destruction marriages. It is difficult to live independently in a marriage but it is the right path to take!

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 30, 2022 at 4:12 pm

      Erin,
      The struggle is real and God is so much bigger. We see you, hear you, and feel you’d we walk with you into your wellbeing one step at a time.
      Thank you for joining us here in this space. We learn more everyday because of your voices.

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 30, 2022 at 4:13 pm

      Erin,
      The struggle is real and God is so much bigger. We see you, hear you, and feel you. Erin, we walk with you into your wellbeing one step at a time.
      Thank you for joining us here in this space. We learn more everyday because of your voices.

  6. Connie on July 28, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    That’s pretty much what I am doing. I sing a lot, I make a point of being thankful for as much as I can think of, and I try to live my own life the best I can. Emotional detachment is crucial. I’ve studied narcissism a lot, so I can predict his behaviours, and sometimes I find myself even amused at how predictable and childish he is. My first husband was 25 years, then an 8 year break where my health got a lot better, now I’m on my second narc for 17 years. God is good. He wants to be my One and Only, lay down all other loves. It’s hard, but I’m so glad I didn’t glide through life on a lovely silk carpet, I would be so judgmental today, and not know my Shepherd very well at all.

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 29, 2022 at 3:55 pm

      Connie,
      It is such an encouragement to us here at LV and Co when we hear of woman stewarding their lives in powerful and Godly ways. Healthy Detachment, It is hard. We can do hard. You are doing hard. We are stronger together.
      With Christ as your one and only, walking into truth daily is a step in the direction of dignity.
      What is your favorite worship song?

  7. Lynnsay on July 28, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you to whoever wrote this! Oh my word…This sounds almost word for word what I used to say until I started listening to Leslie’s videos, read her books, and started talking about it with my counselor. It is only within the last few years I have realized that my husband truly has been verbally, emotionally, and financially abusive all along. This was helpful. Thanks!

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 29, 2022 at 3:50 pm

      Lynnsay,
      Precious woman of God, thank you for sharing. Coach LeAnne here. It is an honor to hold space for your journey into truth. So many Christian woman have been misunderstood, dismissed, misdirected and misled. We stand with the betrayed and abused. As we become aware of what is going on in our relationships, as we find the vocabulary to express what is going on in our homes behind closed doors, freedom and healing begin.
      So grateful you have found help, support and wisdom here. We stand with you in truth, strength and dignity.

  8. Christi on July 28, 2022 at 8:34 pm

    Thank you, LeAnne, for your encouragement to be in God’s word, spend time with healthy friends, embrace the reality in our destructive marriages, and respond biblically. Lord, help us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with YOU.

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 29, 2022 at 3:42 pm

      Christi,
      It takes so much courage to change our dance steps and walk into our CORE Strength. As we reclaim our value and worth in Christ, the worlds we live in shift and change, grow and flourish.
      His word is a lamp unto our feet and indeed a light unto our paths. May He continue to lead your heart, soul and spirit into courage, strength, life-giving moments and humble dignity.
      Thank you for stopping by, and sharing your heart with us here at LV and Co.

  9. Dawn on July 28, 2022 at 11:27 pm

    This is so similar to my situation. Your answer it’s so thorough and I appreciate it. Thank you!

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 29, 2022 at 3:35 pm

      Thank you Dawn for stopping by and sending love and encouragement. There is comfort in knowing that we are not alone.

  10. Heather on July 29, 2022 at 9:34 am

    what a wonderful response! My marriage is so relatable to this question. Been married for 23 yrs and two teenagers. I have strongly shared my heart and hurts to him for over two years now. He has only blame-shifted, refused counsel from others (pastor, counseling, friends). He has become a brick wall and made me his enemy when I have only shared Jesus and truths to him in a loving way as much as possible. You really have to not let your emotions get caught up in the situations that turn sour. I believe he really wants me to get raged. I have asked him to leave (we live on my family’s land so I think he should be the one to do so) so that he could maybe see how he is blinded and want to work on himself. He would never leave. Again, he remained a brick wall and only existing and causing chaos in our home which is not healthy for my children to see. I want them to see a healthy Godly marriage or know that an unhealthy destructive marriage is not acceptable. With much prayer and seeking advice from my counselor, I made the decision to press forward with getting a lawyer and moving forward with separation. He left July 3rd. I cannot tell you the peace I feel now in my home. I’m still optimistic that he will allow God to get ahold of him and he will accept truth, but sometimes you have to use hard love to move forward for you and your children. For now, I am getting financial things in order and so forth. I’m not sure what tomorrow holds, but I am taking care of me and my kids the best I know how in this moment with the Lord’s help. One quote I found recently is: Control what you can but control your response to the things you can’t. I cannot control my husband and make him change, but I can control my response to his change or refusal of change. And one more thing, by all means seek other healthy relationships and find hobbies to enjoy! I love hiking with my friends! God is good!

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 29, 2022 at 3:34 pm

      Heather! I really appreciate you sharing this quote. I’ll add a bit- “Control what you can (yourself) and control your response to the things you can’t.”
      Thank you for sharing your heart and story here. Without a desire to grow and change, humans will remain stuck and immature- you are taking brave steps forward. You are exercising self stewardship and Core strength. Cheering you on sister. The Lord holds you so close. Take Care and be well…

  11. Kari on July 30, 2022 at 8:22 am

    I loved this response. Even though my ex husband walked out almost a year ago after 41 years of marriage he cannot seem to let me go. In reflecting back on our marriage there were good times and hard times. I could so relate to this article when she mentioned that the husband never considers her thoughts. I was often told not to think and just do it. In trying to keep the peace I did that but now realizing that was not the best way to handle the situation. I am trying to do what’s right now. My ex has never had a strong faith but I firmly believe God is working through our divorce for me to show my ex my faith in God and in turn get him closer to God. It’s never easy but I am grounded in my faith and know God is for me and not against me and He is growing my faith in Him through this rough journey. Thank you Leslie and company for all you do to help the hurting.

    • LeAnne Parsons on July 30, 2022 at 4:20 pm

      Kari,
      To be regularly and repeatedly dismissed and disregarded is so painful and abusive. I am sorry for what you have endured.
      You are worthy of healthy love and dignity. It is for woman navigating challenges that you spoke of here, as well as thousands of others that write and call
      us everyday here at LV and Co, that we press on, stand up, speak out, and raise awareness for healthy presence in the relationships that matter most.
      Jesus as our center holds us up even when we feel like we can’t take another step…

  12. Allyson on August 24, 2022 at 3:09 am

    I wept when reading this as I felt you were speaking directly to me. I am starting CORE coaching soon. I am eager to bring back the strong, just and kind person that I know that I am but was somehow lost over the many years in a destructive relationship. This first step was God opening my eyes to the Truth. Now to build my strength and resolve to show up as God made me each and every day no matter what.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 24, 2022 at 8:56 pm

      Allyson, So glad you’re joining WCS to help you get stronger and healthier.

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